What You Need to Know About

AMD Ramping

Intel will prance around with their 1.5Ghz Willys, then not make any. AMD will crank out real chips in the next few months. By early next year,
the low-end processor may be 1Ghz, about the same as Intel’s high-end. Probably won’t matter much to Intel for the Christmas season, but 2001 looks like it will start off bleak.

When you see DDR2100 motherboards that actually work for the Athlon, 266Mhz DDR memory plentiful, and chips meant to operate at that speed, probably will be a good time to buy. I’m guessing January is a good time to start looking.

Why is Itanium So Bad?

Itanium is like the camel; it was designed by committee. Everyone tossed their two cents in, and it totalled up to about $4,700.00. 🙂

Intel apparently is trying to justify this fiasco by saying that this was the toughest project of all time. Bullhickey. Didn’t take Intel six years to design a chip to go from 8 to 16 bits or 16 to 32 bits. Not saying it was easy, but they’ve had SIX YEARS.

Not that too many of you have been anxiously awaiting this, but Itanium is important as a sign of the times at Intel. It shows what happens when you let a bureaucracy design a CPU.

In any business, never give anybody power without responsibility. Don’t ever make anything free to the head of anything; he’ll abuse it. If you don’t, it’s like giving out free candy. The recipient doesn’t care how much it costs so long as it’s not costing him.

If Mr. Marketeer wants itchy rear end circuitry in the CPU and scratcher peripherals, ask him how much of his budget he’s willing to commit to it. Even offer him part of the profits if things work out. Things will get very quiet. 🙂

Why Intel doesn’t want to make Willys, and why that’s important

The die size of the initial Willys is HUGE, more than twice the size of a Coppermine. That means Intel will have to choose between making one Willy or two (or more) Coppermines.

Until sometime in the middle of the year, the only choice you’ll be able to make is RDRAM, which still isn’t cheap (more on this in a moment). Just the core components of a Willy system (CPU, memory, mobo) look likes it will approach $1,500. Not going to sell too many of these at CompUSA.

Besides, Willamette just won’t be very good at 1.5Ghz compared to the competition, and any real rampup will have to await .13. Intel’s challenge is to get the benefit of yelling “1.5! 1.5!” without close inquiry as to what “1.5” really means.

The biggest news out of the IDF is that Intel does not plan to have Willamette pick up the Intel standard any time soon. This leaves a big hole in Intel’s roadmap, and gives AMD close to a free ride on the high end for at least six months, probably more like nine.

True, AMD can’t take as much advantage of that as they might otherwise because even with Dresden, they can make just so many chips, so Intel will still sell most processors just because people won’t be able to get them anyplace else.

This strategy will probably work for Intel on the bottom line (though not for its reputation) so long as demand remains intense (it will also do wonders for AMD’s bottom line). If demand slackens, though, we could have a price war.

Intel bribes OEMs to use RDRAM

Intel will be offering rebates on Willy systems using RDRAM. Not a lot of money ($60-70), but certainly hurts the profit margins on Willys.

Serial ATA demoed

That’s nice. Eventually, we’ll all use it. However, nothing to hold your breath about. Doesn’t do you any good to have a humongous transfer rate if the drives can’t transfer.

Email Ed

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